How sustainable and ethical is ILYSM? Maker of the famous split-toe Tabi sneakers is making a start on sustainability but has some catching up to do for workers. This article is based on the published in May 2022.
ILYSM is taking steps in the right direction
Community-driven sneaker brand ILYSM is known for its split-toe or “Tabi” sneakers in neutral and colourful silk and vegan ranges. On its About page, ILYSM says: “We bring balance and purpose to every step you take with beautiful materials, functional integrity, innovative technology, and sustainable practices.”
It sounds promising, but let’s step behind the scenes and see if the brand practices what it preaches regarding people, planet, and animal impact. How sustainable and ethical is ILYSM?
ILYSM is making a start for the environment, reaching our middling score of “It’s a Start”. It uses a medium proportion of eco-friendly materials in its products, including recycled cotton and TENCEL™ Lyocell. While it doesn’t appear to minimise packaging or take any specific steps to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, its use of eco-friendly materials reduces its climate impact and limits the amount of chemicals, water, and wastewater used in production.
The weakest area for ILYSM is labour conditions. Rated “Not Good Enough”, the brand doesn’t appear to have a Code of Conduct, though it has a formal statement covering worker’s rights and traces and visits suppliers in the final production stage. It sources its final stage of production from countries with extreme risk of labour abuse, like China. Although it states that “the average wage at our factory is 3.44x the minimum wage in Guangzhou, China”, there is no evidence it ensures payment of a living wage across its supply chain.
Coming out on top is the brand’s animal welfare rating, reaching “Good”. ILYSM doesn’t use fur, leather, down, exotic animal skin, exotic animal hair, or angora. It uses wool and silk in some products, but most of its range is marketed as vegan-friendly.
Overall rating: It’s a Start
Overall, we have awarded ILYSM a score of “It’s a Start” overall based on our own research. With “up to 135 workers touching each sneaker during the assembly process”, we’d like to see evidence the brand supports every one of them. Increasing its proportion of eco-friendly materials and removing or tracing the animal-based ones would also help its sustainability journey.
Note that Good On You ratings consider hundreds of issues, and it is not possible to list every relevant issue in a summary of the brand’s performance. For more information, see our How We Rate page and our FAQs.
If you want to shop more in line with your values, Good On You recommends you support brands that embrace a more ethical and sustainable fashion model. We’ve rounded up a few of our favourite similar brands to ILYSM.
“Good” and “Great” alternatives to ILYSM